As much as I’m disheartened by the growing and intense partisan divisions afflicting our country, I have to say that I’m especially proud of America today. Remember all the hysterics in recent weeks about a civil war hitting our streets in the wake of the presidential election? Remember the stores being boarded up, people doubling down on their personal protection, others even leaving the country to avoid the anticipated chaos?
What happened? Where did all that violence go?
America happened. Reality happened.
What drove the alarmism is pure fear. We’re reminded once again that fear is big business. It sells papers, boosts ratings, adds followers, increases fundraising. Fear is what fed the hysteria that spread like an epidemic in advance of our election.
Alarmists must be disappointed today. Yes, there are scattered demonstrations, but the streets of America are not exploding. Indeed, we are intensely divided, a razor-wire election is still undecided, accusations of fraud continue to spread and we may be in for some ugly legal battles. All the ingredients are there to light the fuse of civic violence. And yet, a general peace is prevailing.
I’m not saying violence is not possible. We saw incidents of both vandalism and violence during the summer protests. I hated it. I hate violence and destruction, period. Protest all you want, just don’t hurt bodies or property.
Maybe those spurts of summer violence are what frightened people ahead of the election. They saw the ugly scenes and figured that with the stakes so high in the election, the streets would explode.
This fear was stoked by human nature. Since the beginning of time, our survival gene has wired us to look for danger. The attention economy—traditional media, social media, Hollywood producers, activists of all kinds—thrive on this gene. They know there’s nothing like fear to grab your attention.
Well, how about this unalarming news item to get your attention: The vast majority of Americans are not violent. They may fear it, but they don’t actually do it.
The quiet streets we see throughout America today while our politics are tearing us apart are a testament to that silent, non-violent, overwhelming majority.
I hope and pray that a few violent bad apples won’t poison this uneasy peace. But even if they do, we should never forget that when push comes to shove, most Americans, regardless of who they vote for, are people just like you and me. They don’t vote for violence.
Let’s hope it continues.
David Suissa is editor-in-chief and publisher of Tribe Media Corp, and the “Jewish Journal.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was first published by the Jewish Journal.